"I don't believe in journalists having 'responsibility.'"
-Seth Lipsky, October 16, 2003

Seth Lipsky and Ira Stoll demanded on August 20, 2003, that Washington "finish the war" against "the Arabs."

Seth Lipsky and Ira Stoll assembled their staff for a Champagne toast to mass death on the commencement of hostilities against Iraq. Stoll called it "my war." CNN maintains a running update here of Americans killed in Ira's war.

On February 6, 2003, Seth Lipsky and Ira Stoll wrote, in all seriousness, of a pending anti-war demonstration that the "the New York City police could do worse, in the end, than to allow the protest and send two witnesses along for each participant, with an eye toward preserving at least the possibility of an eventual treason prosecution."

The June 9, 1995 Wall Street Journal quoted an SEC complaint against New York Sun backer Bruce Kovner as saying Kovner had "altered and destroyed" subpoenaed evidence. We wish you'd do the same to the daily print run of your God-awful newspaper, Bruce.

Also, Professor G. Harlan Reynolds alleged on August 27, 2002 - when the Sun was several months in publication - that Seth Lipsky and Ira Stoll had not yet paid him for a piece authored for their inaugural issue.

 
 
   
 
Friday, April 19, 2002
 
We have retained the sagacious Brad Olson as arts editor. What follows is Mr. Olson's first effort on our behalf. Do enjoy. -GO

The Sun debuts its trifecta - winners, all - of film critics today; Jason Riley, Nathan Lee, and the distinguished James Bowman, of The American Spectator, The New Criterion, and other fine publications. Bowman’s debut as film reviewer for The Sun is an auspicious one - finally, someone who can stand up to the left-leaning Michael Medveds of the world. In today’s Sun he critiques two new arthouse films, "Nine Queens" and "The Triumph of Love," and finds both of them lacking. I think.

Bowman writes of "Triumph," "the movie is a mess, an incoherent mixture of styles and point of view," although he does single out for praise one Ms. Mira Sorvino. Bowman admits to a "hopeless crush" on Ms. Sorvino, who in the course of the film disguises herself as a man. So Bowman has a crush on Mira Sorvino, who in the film dresses up like a man. Mira Sorvino, she of the large frame, the broad shoulders, the husky voice. And she dresses up like a man. And Bowman has a crush on her. I’m not saying anything, I’m just saying.

Regardless, it’s clear that Bowman didn’t like "The Triumph of Love." His take on "Nine Queens" is not as apparent, although he seems to like it. Or maybe not. See, Bowman has an essential problem with the Argentinian crime caper film. "Wouldn’t any rational person minimize his risk of being caught-and in this case also save himself a lot of grief-if he believed he could gain as much or more by honest behavior?" he writes, while pointing out that this objection occurred to him only after the film was over, and that his objection is "not necessarily valid." But his take on honest behavior is a valid one-couldn’t Michael Corleone have minimized his risk of being caught, saved himself a lot of grief, and gained as much or more by honest behavior like staying in the Army instead of joining the family business? Then we all could have enjoyed a three film epic about a guy shuttling his family from Army base to Army base before retiring as a lieutenant colonel.

The honesty issue strikes deeply at Bowman’s core. After all, "honesty" and "honor" start with the same three letters, "hon" (from the Latin for "what diner waitresses call you"). And Bowman is nothing if not an expert on honor. On his his website Bowman lists his areas of expertise as "Movies, media, honor in general, honor in politics, education;" further, he writes that he is "at present employed in writing a book about honor-and in particular, what has happened to the old-fashioned idea of honor in the last hundred years." Sadly, he does not appear to have used the word "honor" itself in these reviews. We breathlessly await its inaugural appearance.

So did Bowman actually like "Nine Queens?" I guess so, as he concludes that "those who believe, as I do, in Hitchcock’s saying that plot is the soul of the cinema have a treat in store." I was confused by my own trouble fathoming Bowman’s take on the film; his writing is usually much clearer. For example, take this passage from his review of "Monsoon Wedding", available on his website:
Only the patriarch of the Verma family of New Delhi, played by Naseeruddin Shah, the arranged marriage of whose daughter, Aditi (Vasundhara Das) to a well-to-do émigré from Houston (Parvin Dabas) provides the "Wedding" of the title, seemed to me entirely convincing as a real person, one who was unconscious of the job of work he had in hand on behalf of the authors.


Of course we have all been "unconscious of the job of work we’ve had in hand" at one time or another, but have any of us been able to express it so eloquently?
 
The Sun makes much of that great moral arbiter George Bush’s assessment of Ariel Sharon as a man of peace, while not designating Yasser Arafat similarly. We, of course, knew this already, though the Palestinians, through a series of tragic misapprehensions, have been hereto unable to get their collective head around the fact. Ever since Mr. Sharon’s misunderstood meet-and-greet session at Haram esh-Sharif, the Palestinians have proven themselves singularly unable to make proper sense of the man’s actions and motivations. Mr. Sharon’s overtures of peace - delivered mostly via mortar or through affable bulldozer-operating intermediaries - have yet to find proper and gracious receipt. Instead, the Palestinians prove unable to overcome ancient history, baying about remote events such as the delivery of the Kahan Commission's findings and Arafat’s receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Rachel Kovner, who is your daddy and what does he do?

Today’s Sun runs to just 12 pages, two of which are full-page advertisements. Yesterday’s was the same length and contained, by my certainly flawed count, ten articles authored or supplemented by Sun reporters. Against that were 25 taken from the AP or from London’s Daily Telegraph. Nine Sun-authored pieces compete for space today with 18 supplied from without. My question: how hard is it to fill ten pages of newsprint? The correct figure is actually nine and three-quarters when one takes the Street Blimps advertisement into consideration, making the Sun a greater than $0.05 per-page investment. Monday’s Post at that rate would have set me back over $4.00.

Thursday, April 18, 2002
 
An anonymous "Staff Reporter of the Sun" weighs in with a piece on a left-leaning New York investment banker’s bid for an Idaho U.S Senate seat that is full of purposeful omission. The story tells how a group of largely unnamed Republican donors met for a spot of lunch at Manhattan’s 21 Club and decided on "neutralizing" the banker’s New York support. That they met over lunch suggests a casualness about their enterprise - this is something I don’t ordinarily do, but after a plate of Hickory-Fired Filet Mignon with Stoneground Corn and Chanterelles, some cheeky banter, and one too many glasses of Araujo 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley Eisele Vineyard), I just may. Mallory Factor - who earned her money the hard way - is named as one of the donors. Coincidentally, she is also a member of the Economic Policy Council to the troglodytic Club for Growth, a sad collection of big-money cretins sharing the goal of "helping elect more Reaganite, economic growth-oriented office seekers," as its website says. Could those warm and fuzzy donors meeting for casual chatter and dining have been constituents of an organization engineered with Austrian precision to ensure the timely delivery of money to in-need Republicans whenever and wherever there exists a chance of money’s prerogative meeting a challenge? The Sun doesn’t ask the question, presumably not wanting to upset one of its benefactors, Richard Gilder, who is also on the Club’s board of directors. His aversion to democracy aside, Gilder can also be hated on account of (a) the last name he shares with notable sicko George Gilder, and (b) his partnership with George W. Bush in the Texas Rangers baseball franchise and its shakedowns of the citizenry of Texas.

Ira Stoll presents us with an opinion piece cleverly disguised as reportage on the evil Palestinians and the Europeans who love them. The suicide bombers, for Stoll, exist absent of historical or contemporary context. Anyone admitting context is a hypocrite. This afternoon I will ask my attorney if it is jurisprudentially possible for Stoll to sue himself for damages suffered in the workplace. It seems prolonged exposure to The New York Times at his previous gig has greatly impaired his capacity for reason. That paper seems to continue to inform his "thinking" on the issue.

The Sun’s premiere edition advertisements were embarrassing, as noted elsewhere. They continue to to embarrass. On page 5 is an advertisement for a discount house offering suits for $79. Would "Big Dick" Gilder or Charles Brunie ever allow themselves spied in such ensembles? Please have Christopher Garrity rethink the direction of the paper's advertising sales effort.

Wednesday, April 17, 2002
 
Judging by today’s Sun, the Steinhardt kids exhausted their supply of non-perishable interviews and features with yesterday’s edition. Today’s seems to be largely composed of items taken from the AP, which begs the question why one would spend $2.50 each week on the paper when the AP’s wire can be accessed free of charge. The very choice of AP stories is curious: a front page short on Japan sterilizing a members of a "growing population of violent monkeys," and a considerably longer piece on a study that proves the efficacy of 1996’s welfare reform. No mention of another study released yesterday which posits the precise opposite.

Of the non-wire items, we have an article by Rachel Kovner (any relation to "Cousin Brucie" Kovner?) prosecuting Sun backer Joseph Reich’s line on charter schools, an "editorial in verse" (!), and a piece on a neglected French chef who receives attention from no other corner. Two days on the job, and they’re already filling that void in priority coverage of the City nicely.

Reluctant as I am to do so, I must register a few words on what the Sun has done right. Those words are ‘printing,’ ‘choice of paper stock,’ and ‘ink selection.’ My driver, regrettably, fell ill this morning with a case of the "Labatt’s Splats," as he termed it. I was forced to travel by subway to the office, and was pressed into unnervingly close proximity to persons I would rather not have met. Their crowding prevented me from unfolding and reading the Sun for the duration of the trip, something I suppose I should have thanked them for but did not. At the end of my trip, spent clutching the paper tightly, I discovered my hands to be remarkably free of ink. I hereby compliment the Sun on its use of low-rub and rub-free inks, and needlessly thick newsprint.


Tuesday, April 16, 2002
 
Debut day, and the Sun certainly does not disappoint. It's worse than I anticipated by a factor of three, at least. What the paper is, at bottom, is an attempt to disguise and recast personal biases as, if not established fact, at least as contemporary consensus. To demonstrate the inadequacy of New York's rent control laws, the paper cites "economic experts" and a 1996 editorial from "the usually liberal New York Times," the most obvious outlet for state of the art discussion on a matter of considerable complexity. The same piece cites a Manhattan Institute inmate as a presumed expert as to why rent control is so bad an idea. The Institute is correctly, if understatedly, identified as "conservative," though the piece fails to mention that nearly all the men financially backing the paper serve as Institute trustees.

Peggy Noonan is also a Manhattan Institute trustee. Her encounter with Lech Walesa appears on the front page, a few columns left of the item on rent control. She handily assures us that "Lech Walesa, who is a great man," has undergone conversion from "one kind of romantic to another." Modern screen has been romanticizing mental illness for decades now, and perhaps this is what Ms. Noonan meant. If Ms. Noonan could overcome her fixation on Mr. Walesa's anti-communist credentials, she could actually listen to the Polish people. Mr. Walesa's public comments since his ouster have run from the inexplicable to the inexcusable, though most Poles would grant that had he walled himself up in the manner of Benedictine Monk in 1990, never to be heard from again, he would have won immortality.

Ira Stoll's contribution banners across four columns. Lucky I downed the Immodium and braved it and learned of "the coming war against Saddam." Wow! Even the Post editorial page isn't so presumptuous. Mr. Stoll should perhaps practice his craft for PR Newswire rather than a metropolitan daily, as he seems to be doing nothing more than rewrite work for Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. At length, the "leader of the free, democratic Iraqi opposition, Ahmad Chalabi," is flattered, and an unpaid balance of $96 million in unpaid aid "to support a transition to democracy" is fretted over. Such known facts as the skepticism of many favorably disposed neighboring regimes (Jordanian, Syria, and Turkey) toward Mr. Chalabi, his organization, and his plan for insurgency, go unmentioned. Also unmentioned is Mr. Chalabi's Roger Hertog-like loss of other people’s money.

The paper reaches its low point, unsurprisingly, on its editorial page. In evidence there is the usual deliberate conflation of political Zionism with ethnic Judaism, though going one sad step further. On Page 10, we see the startling equation of protest of Israeli "occupation" (always in quotation marks) with anti-Semitism, and the charge that disagreement with this equation constitutes "conceit." Twice! Twice - on opening day, nonetheless - the Sun betters the Post. I cannot wait for tomorrow’s edition.

 

 
   
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